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Diversity Within The Criminal Justice System

2845 words - 11 pages

The US Justice Department statistics 2003 and onwards demonstrates significant disproportion in the incarceration rate of minority African American and Hispanic men between the ages of 25 and 29 years as compared to the rate associated with White men of the same age. Bell (2007), proposes that as minority groups grow in numbers within the dominant group they will experience greater equality. However, rate of incarceration among minority males remains alarmingly high and as compared to their White counterparts. As with health care there are racial disparities that will influence outcomes when an individual is brought before the criminal courts. Additionally, there is significant correlation between a person’s level of education and the likelihood of his involvement in criminal activities. Studies and statistics have shown that among male high school dropouts there is high incidence of unemployment, low income and rate of illicit drug use as compared to men with degrees from four year colleges. Further to this, although the rate of school dropout and even arrest is not significantly different across the race lines, literature alludes that African American men have a higher rate of conviction for the same crime committed.
This paper proposes that three major factors play a role in the high rate of convictions of black men versus whites and Hispanics. These factors are the lack of diversity among legal professionals in positions of power for decision-making, specifically those in the criminal justice system; secondly, the racial disparities that exist in arrest conviction and sentencing and thirdly, the incidence of discriminatory actions within the justice system. The paper seeks to examine literature related to diversity within the criminal justice system and prison populations to determine how and to what extent these factors play a part in the proportions of African American and Hispanic men incarcerated and how racial diversity influences the incidence of crime, prosecution, convictions and prison time.
There is tremendous racial disproportion that exists within the population of incarcerated men between the ages of 25 and 29 years. In 2003 the US Justice Department reported at midyear that about 10.4% of the entire African-American male population in the United States aged 25 to 29 was incarcerated. This represented the largest racial or ethnic group, by comparison to 2.4% of Hispanic men and 1.2% of white men in that same age group. What makes these numbers more alarming is that blacks make up only 12.7% of the U.S. population yet they make up 48.2% of adults in federal, state, or local prisons and jails while Hispanics represent 11.1% of the U.S. population and18.6% of the prison population. It is important to note that whites were often over counted in the prison population when the “white” Hispanics for example, are counted among them. This may cause variations in statistical data...

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